With a darkening sky and a threatening thunderstorm, Bonneville Golf Course Head PGA Professional Jordan Gibbs made a birdie on the Par 5 5th at Hubbard Golf Course to defeat Tommy Sharp on the 24th hole of the final match, to win the Utah PGA Match Play Championship, May 24th.
Gibbs and Sharp advanced to the championship match by defeating former Match Play champions Zach Johnson and Dustin Volk in the semifinal matches Wednesday morning.
The final match was a grind for both players after Sharp had gone 3-up after five holes with both players experiencing the match play rollercoaster of emotions. The low point for Gibbs came after going 4-down heading into the par 3 13th.
Gibbs won the 13th when Sharp uncharacteristically missed the green short and right and then could not get up and down for par. Gibbs gained another hole when Sharp missed a tricky four-footer at the 14th.
With momentum on his side, Gibbs then won his third hole in a row with a second shot 8-iron from the right rough to just a few inches from the hole on the par 5 15th. The conceded eagle left Sharp with a 1 up lead with three holes to play.
“Total up and down feelings today and definitely, like a low point, going 4-down,” Gibbs said. “I just couldn’t really get anything going. I didn’t really make any putts you know, and all of a sudden, I keep losing holes because Tommy’s really solid. But I had a couple of good shots and the turning point I guess was 13 or 14, somewhere around there was the turning point where I won three in a row.”
Sharp was 1-up heading to the last hole until Gibbs’ drive on 18 left him with a short wedge shot approach where he then made a birdie to force extra holes. Sharp’s downhill birdie chip attempt to win the hole missed.
Starting the extra holes on the par 4 18th, both players bogeyed. Sharp’s four foot par putt from below the hole lipped out leaving both players and those watching in a bit of shock.
Moving to Hubbard’s first hole for the 20th hole of the match, both players made a par. The 21st hole was tied with birdies and the 22nd and 23rd with pars.
While the weather was growing more ominous, Gibbs got up and down from behind the green on the par 5 5th hole for a birdie to win the match.
The Match Play Championship win is the first Utah PGA championship trophy for Gibbs who moved to Utah from New Mexico’s Sun Country Section a few years ago. While Gibbs has won the Sun Country Section Championship twice and its Stableford Championship, this is the first Match Play win of his career.
Gibbs said, “Last year (his first at Bonneville), I was kind of just trying to figure out all the courses here, and a new job and other stuff. I played some good rounds and was competitive a little bit but you know, I didn’t have my best year last year. I’m looking forward to playing more this year, and at least knowing the majority of the courses now, I’m a little more confident. This is a good start to the season.”
Read more from the Utah PGA Match Play Championship in the June issue of PGA Monthly.
Monticello High School’s girls’ golf team took home its first state trophy Wednesday afternoon.
Monticello ended the day with a 396, beating second-place Manila by just twelve strokes.
“Last year they were close and were a little disappointed, so they were driven this year,” said Shane Brewer, who shares coaching duties for the Buckaroos with Nathan Chamberlain.
“It’s been a rough, rough season with the winter and the snow that canceled a lot of the events we were meant to play. We were practicing in a basement for two months before we got on a course.”
Cambree Chamberlain led the way for Monticello, shooting a 98 and tying with Manila’s Sadee Davis for fourth place overall.
Sisters Alise Lewis, a sophomore, and Amy Lewis, a senior, tied with Panguitch’s Adelaide Englestead for sixth place, with all of them carding 99 during Wednesday’s tournament.
“It’s all been leading up to this point,” Alise Lewis said. “Coming into state we had a lot of high hopes, and I think it went as planned.”
Alise Lewis said she and her sister push each other in practice and on the course.
“Every tournament she beats me by just a little,” Alise Lewis said. “We just had a great time today.”
Ali Young was the fourth scoring player for Monticello, with a 100 and ninth-place finish individually.
Hard work and a good attitude kept the Monticello girls in contention, according to Brewer.
“In spite of all the hardships, they just kept pushing and working and having a good attitude,” Brewer said.
“I think 1A golf is kinda special because you get kids who start from zero and find their passion,” Brewer said. “If they put in the time, they’ll have some great experiences.”
Added Chamberlain: “It was emotional, up and down. There were good scores and bad scores, good days and bad days.
“We have several kids who play multiple sports. We have three track stars on the team who will get home tonight and take off tomorrow for state track. We get to see the kids grow and change and develop, and it’s neat to be a part of it.”
Pinnacle senior Avery Atwood was the top individual player of the day. She shot a 95 to earn the first-place medal.
Atwood’s day started with a seven on the first hole, and then a five on a par 3.
“I started off really bad,” said Atwood, who has been playing golf since she could swing a club, spending days with her dad and grandfather on the course, but has only played high school golf the last two years.
As the day progressed, nerves calmed down and the shots straightened out.
“In the last half I was able to par a lot more and get my score down,” Atwood said. “I’m just so proud of my team. Our golfers just don’t give up, no matter what the score is.”
Written by David Anderson for the Desert News. Republished with permission. Photos courtesy of Fairways Media/Randy Dodson.
For Altamont’s Dicein Taylor, the game of golf is about chasing that next great swing.
Taylor earned the first-place medal at the 1A boys state golf tournament at Cove View Golf Course in Richfield Wednesday, where he shot a two-day total of 146.
He led his team to a second-place finish, with Valley taking the top spot.
“Both days I felt like I just couldn’t get the putter working,” Taylor said, although by the end of the tournament he had shot just one over par both days.
“I had a lot of good approach shots, but I feel I was trying to chase it too much and not letting the birdies come to me. Overall it was good. I’m happy with it.”
It was Taylor’s final high school golf tournament.
“It was fun,” Taylor said. “You see a good shot, and it makes you want to come back. It’s satisfying when you come in and see a good score on the board.”
Valley won the boys championship with a team score of 709 across both days of the 1A tournament, cutting nine strokes from its total Wednesday.
“The season has been great,” said Valley coach Jeremy Chamberlain. “Region 20 golf has come a long way, and it was pretty tight this year. It pushed us to be better.”
Senior Cooper Chamberlain led the Buffaloes to the team win, finishing in fifth place individually with a two-day total of 160.
“He’s been a top 10 finisher since he was a sophomore,” said Jeremy Chamberlain.
Ivan Spencer snagged 10th place in the individual rankings for the Buffaloes and Hunter Barrick shot his best round of the year for Valley Wednesday, earning him 19th place overall and a 185 two-day total.
“It was nice to have the seniors lead out and the rest of us follow,” Chamberlain said. “We have a ton of support from our administration and community. We just want to continue the tradition.”
Wendover’s Avre Gomez finished second in the individual competition behind Taylor.
“I started off rough both days,” Gomez said. “I felt like I couldn’t get a single putt to fall yesterday. Then today, once I got my putts to start falling, I couldn’t hit my irons. … I just working with what I had.”
Gomez was able to put together a 155 two-day total, leading Wendover along with teammate Trejin Tangaro, who nabbed a tie for third place with Rich’s Noah Parry.
“Golf means a lot to me,” Gomez said. “When I find something I enjoy, I really put my best effort into it.”
Written by David Anderson for the Desert News. Republished with permission. Photos courtesy of Utah PGA/Adri Summerhays and Fairways Media/Randy Dodson.
Neither the team nor the individual who were crowned 2A state champions on Tuesday arrived at Lakeside Golf Course on Tuesday with expectations of walking away with a state title. Their season averages suggested it wasn’t very likely.
As it turns out, both Beaver’s girls golf team and Draper APA freshman Natalie McLane defied those odds to claim their respective 2A titles.
Beaver shot 24 strokes better than its season average, firing a 381 team score on Tuesday to edge defending state champ Rowland Hall by two strokes. Rowland Hall finished with a 383, which was 19 strokes higher than its season average.
“I’m so proud of the girls, and how hard they’ve worked and how they focused. We just came in and thought, ‘We’re going to do our best because Rowland Hall has five seniors, and they’re so awesome, and we’re just going to go play and learn from them,’” said Beaver coach Marilee Eyre.
For McLane, she came into the one-day tournament with the second-best scoring average in 2A at 78.4, but the gap between her and reigning 2A medalist Arden Louchheim was a pretty big one. Louchheim had a 70.7 average in six matches this spring and is a Nebraska commit with a long resume of competing in big tournaments.
McLane knew firsthand how good Louchheim’s shotmaking was as they competed in the same region this year.
McLane never beat Louchheim in any of those region tournaments, but she got the better of her on Tuesday as she shot a 2-over 73 to edge Louchheim by one stroke. Rowland Hall’s Jasmine Le finished third with a 16-over 87.
McLane finished about four holes before Louchheim did, and when she was done she trailed by two strokes. Knowing how good the senior she was chasing was, McLane didn’t really consider the possibility that she still had a chance.
“I thought she’d beat me by a lot, so I wasn’t too stressed,” she said.
Louchheim, however, bogeyed three of the final four holes as her bid for a third-straight individual 2A title came up one stroke short.
“I was shocked, I was really shocked. My mom started crying too and my dad was cheering like crazy (when my mom called and told him),” said McLane.
McLane said the day before the state tournament she was “hozzling” a bunch of shots in a practice round and was genuinely worried it would carry over to the state tournament.
It kind of did too, with McLane double bogeying her No. 10 starting hole. On the next hole, she yanked her par 3 tee shot left into the rough. She chipped up and saved par, and said that sequence helped settle her down.
She proceeded to birdie the next hole and finished out her front nine in 2-over. She parred all nine holes on her back nine to post a number that was close enough to Louchheim to give her a chance.
Draper APA coach Allison Gow said she could see McLane settle down after that rough start, and said Tuesday showed what a bright future she has in golf.
“She is just an amazing kid and I think she’s got a phenomenal future ahead of her in golf,” said McLane.
For Beaver, its depth allowed it to capture its first state championship since 2019 and a going-away present for Eyre who is retiring from coaching golf after 22 years. She retired as a teacher at Beaver five years ago but kept coaching golf to finish up coaching her granddaughter in high school.
Her granddaughter, senior Tawni Eyre, was one of four Beaver golfers who finished in the top 10 at Lakeside Golf Course.
Taisley Marshall finished fifth with a 94, Heidi Harris finished sixth with a 95, and then Eyre and Sunnie Moon tied for seventh with 96s.
“It feels better than anything I can ever imagine. The girls have worked so hard this year,” said coach Eyre. “I feel like our top four girls were as focused as I’ve seen them.”
Written by James Edward for the Deseret News. Republished with permission. Photos courtesy of Fairways Media/Garrit Johnson.
A 2-under-par performance on the second day cushions Ellie Demond’s individual title and helps route Morgan High School to the state title.
Morgan High School captured the 2023 3A Girls Golf State Championship with a (+66) 642 (322-320) performance in the 36-hole tournament held at Glendale Golf Course in Salt Lake City. The Trojans were led by individual title winner Ellie DeMond and second place medalist Jailee Snow. DeMond claimed the individual title with a 2-under-par 70 in the final round that comprised of six birdies and one eagle to finish at 2-under-par 142 (72-70) for the tournament. Snow finished the tournament at 7-over-par 151 (77-74) earning herself a second place spot on the leaderboard.
Region 12 winners Richfield High School placed second after a 78-over-par 654 (329-325), 12 strokes behind the leader. The Wildcats had four top 10 medalists with Shelby Gardner and Abbee Albreccht tying for fourth at 162, 18-over-par for the tournament followed by Brielle Jolley who shot a 163 (82-81), 19-over-par, landing in sixth. Hallie Janes was the last metalist for her team and the tournament, metaling in tenth with a score of 172 (83-89), 28-over-par.
Region 15 winner Juan Diego rounded out the top three teams after shooting a 666 (330-336), 90-over-par led by third place finisher Cabria Walters who finished the tournament at 10-over-par after shooting 154 (75-79). Grayson Gagnon placed seventh after a 166 (82-84) performance finishing at 22-over-par.
Individually, only Brooklyn Brown and Makenna Bohman represented their schools in the top 10 individuals outside of the players on the top three teams. Brown represented Union High School metaling eighth with a 164 (84-84) performance finishing at 24-over-par and Bohman representing Grantsville shot a 26-over-par 166 (84-86), metaling ninth.
Written by Joshua Green, Utah PGA intern. Photos courtesy of Fairways Media/Garrit Johnson
For the third year in a row, Pine View went home with the trophy at the 4A girls golf state championship. The Panthers shot a plus-116, beating second-place Green Canyon by 22 strokes.
After winning the 2021 and 2022 state titles, Pine View coach Matt Wieland felt like a three-peat was possible, but this time around it was going to be more challenging.
“This was our hardest one yet,” Wieland said. “We knew coming in that the competition was a little stiffer this year. We knew that we had to come and win it.”
Pine View was led by Alyssa Butterfus who tied for third overall with a 14-over-par 156. Butterfus led the tournament after the first day with a plus-four 75, but struggled in the first nine on the second day, shooting plus-nine. After a “rough” start to Day 2, Butterfus had to reset to finish strong.
“I just did it for the team,” Butterfus said. “It was rough. I knew that at that point I kind of obviously didn’t play what I was wanting to, but I just realized, you know, it’s just a game of golf and it’s just one shot at a time.”
Butterfus rebounded on the back nine with a one-over-par performance, just missing out on a birdie on the 18th hole that would have put her even on the back nine.
Kenzi Owen and Hallie Wieland rounded out the top 10 of the tournament for Pine View tying for ninth as both shot 172.
The victory for Pine View is even more impressive knowing the squad has just five girls on the roster to produce the top four scores that count for the team instead of the standard six.
“We kind of just had to lean on each other and we’re all pretty good golfers so it’s nice to lean on to them,” Butterfus said. “I mean three-peat’s pretty cool to say, so yeah it feels good.”
Crimson Cliffs freshman Kate Walker won the individual title with a plus-nine-par 151, four strokes ahead of the second-place finisher. Walker said her goal the entire year was to win state and it was “surreal” to have the first-place medal hung on her neck.
“I’ve been thinking about it since the season started, like ‘I want to win state,’ and that happened today,” Walker said. “I thought less about what age people are. I just thought more about that I have the game to beat other people.”
Walker’s strong putting put her ahead of the pack with multiple one-putts and long putts for par.
“My putting definitely saved me a lot,” Walker said.
Walker’s coach, Jared Huddleston, said he sees Walker putting in extra work early before school on putting greens and it paid off during the tournament.
“Just clutch,” Huddleston said. “She deserves this because she puts … time into practice and to get better.”
After posting a plus-three round on Day 2 Walker had to watch the previous day’s leaders finish out their rounds to see if she would hang on to first place, but Huddleston said Walker playing first put the pressure on the girls below Walker “to take some risks to try and catch her.”
Even bigger than the title for Huddleston is the leader Walker has been to her teammates this season.
“She’s done wonders for our team because she’s made golf fun and cool,” Huddleston said. “She’s been getting a lot of girls practicing and playing more and I think it’s just going to do wonders for our program over the next couple years.”
Written by Jake Ellis for the Desert News. Published with permission. Photos courtesy of Fairways Media/Randy Dodson.
Throughout most of her round during the final day of the 6A state tournament on Tuesday, Lone Peak’s Aadyn Long positioned herself with makeable putts but rarely rolled them in.
Everything finally started to click for the sophomore on the final three holes.
Long birdied 16, 17 and 18, while freshman teammate Saydie Wagner — playing in the group behind her — shot even par over those final three holes as Long pulled away to claim 6A medalist honors at Riverbend Golf Course.
Long shot a 4-under 68 on Tuesday, finishing the two-day tournament with 2-under 142. Wagner finished second with a 1-over 145. Those finally three birdie putts proved to be the difference.
“All day I wasn’t able to make any putts, but those last three came in and it was good,” said Long. “I just try to focus one shot at a time and taking it in the moment, and just focus on what I’ve been working on with all my shots. So just focusing on the execution rather than the result.”
Long believes all the high-pressure situations she’s played in, both at national tournament and finishing as 6A runner-up last season, helped her navigate the pressure situations of state.
“State has different nerves, at least for me you’re always just so nervous. Like I can go play in a national event and don’t feel as nervous as you are at state,” said Long.
American Fork’s Lily Shin and Weber’s Remi Rawlings tied for third at 148, with Riverton’s Hunter Gledhill finishing fifth with a 151. Gledhill shot a 69 on Tuesday, the only other golfer to shoot under par in the final round.
With Long and Wagner leading the way, Lone Peak ran away with a repeat state title on Tuesday.
The Knights backed up Monday’s opening round 306 with another 306 on Tuesday to claim the 6A state title with a team score of 612. Corner Canyon was a distant second with 669, with Weber in third at 671.
Lone Peak’s third and fourth golfers both finished inside the top 20, with sophomore Adley Nelson in seventh (156) and Halley Woodley tying for 16th (170).
“The girls were awesome, they’ve been awesome all year. It’s funny, this was supposed to be a rebuilding year I guess they say,” said Lone Peak coach Derek Farr.
Lone Peak graduated five of its sixth golfers who participated in state last year, and Farr wasn’t sure what to expect either this season. He knew he had a ringer in Long, who finished three strokes behind her sister Berlin Long during last year’s state tournament, but beyond that things were unknown.
When Lone Peak went to Phoenix last fall to participate in the Ping national tournament along with Lone Peak’s boys team, Farr walked away thinking once the spring season rolled around the possibility existed his team might have numerous players score in the 90s.
“But after that the girls kind of just focused in and worked. It’s been a process, I think they’ve enjoyed the process,” said Farr.
Of Lone Peak’s six golfers who participated at state, nobody shot in the 90s in either of their rounds.
For Long, she knew Tuesday’s round was going to be a grind. She shot a 2-over 74 on Monday and trailed Wagner by three strokes. It kind of fit with the narrative of the season, with Wagner winning Region 4 medalist honors with Long struggling at times.
It was something she was mindful of on Tuesday as she tried to focus on the mental aspect of her game if the shot making wasn’t as dialed in.
“I’ve been really trying to work on that this season cause I kind of came out not playing great, I realize it was all mental and how I switch my focus and focusing on things, so it’s definitely been a long process but I think today I was able to execute and stay in the moment,” said Long.
She said she’s proud of how she finished the high school season compared to where her game was when it started a couple months ago — even though four region matches for canceled because of weather.
“I’ve definitely gotten better this year so being able to show that I think that makes me emotional. I think I’ve had a rough season, but coming out and being able to shoot 4-under is a big thing to show how hard I’ve been working on that mental game and that game in general.”
When Long walked up to the No. 16 tee box on Tuesday she sat all square at 1-over with Wagner. She proceed to make birdies on 16, 17 and 18, including rolling in a 15-footer for birdie on 18 with the pressure of a large gallery watching her.
Written by James Edward for the Deseret News. Republished with permission. Photos courtesy of Fairways Media/Garrit Johnson.
With Timpview looking for its fourth consecutive state title, Skyline’s Ashley Lam made sure that didn’t happen as the junior shot a blistering 11-under par to lead the Eagles to their first-ever girls State Championship at Remuda Golf Course, May 11th.
“It’s very exciting,” said Lam with a big smile on her face. “I love this team and to be able to win it for our school is very special.”
“I’ve never seen a team so determined and that worked so hard throughout the year to get to this point,” added Skyline head coach Kenny James. “Everyone was prepared and focused and I give all the credit to the juniors on this team. Avery Kraatz, Tegan Halloran and Ashley have been phenomenal all year by coaching up the other girls, encouraging them and always helping them. We’re a young team, but you wouldn’t know it with the way the girls carry themselves. They’re amazing.”
Heading into day two, Skyline, Bonneville and Timpview were neck-and-neck as they were all within one stroke of each other. Skyline started to pull away with a seven-shot lead heading into the back nine, but Timpview wouldn’t go away as the defending champs made one last push thanks to Emma Lillywhite and Seneti Toluta’u, who finished second and third respectively. With Skyline holding on to a two-stroke lead late in the day, the Eagles didn’t let the pressure get to them as Halloran birdied the final hole and Lam followed right behind with a par as the crowd erupted to give Skyline the 5A state title.
“That was the biggest putt of my life,” said Lam. “With everyone watching, it was exciting and scary all at the same time.”
“Ashley is so good and consistent,” added James. “She tied the course record at Murray Park last week with a 61. She’s so talented and there’s nothing in golf that she can’t do. She’s amazing and so battle tested. We knew she was going to make that last putt.”
Skyline finished with a team score of 630, five shots better than defending champion Timpview, which finished second at 635. Bonneville finished third (649), while Olympus (656) and Wasatch (666) rounded out the top five.
“The girls peaked at the right time, and we shot our lowest scores of the season right before state,” said James. “The girls came in with confidence and made the most of their opportunities. I’m so happy for them. They deserve it.”
On the individual side, Lam — who had a five-stroke lead heading into day two — stayed aggressive as the junior fired a 4-under 68, to go with her 7-under 65 on Monday. Lillywhite tried to close the gap at the start with a birdie on the first hole, but that’s as close as the Timpview junior would get as Lam extended her lead with four birdies on the front nine to cruise to the victory.
“I was just playing my game and tried not to think about it,” said Lam about her individual lead. “I really like this course and the greens are really good. I stayed aggressive and I’m just glad that I could help my team get the win.”
For Lam, winning medalist honors was a long time coming, as the junior finished third and fifth over the past two years.
Not only will Lam look to defend her title next year, but with the entire team coming back — with three juniors, a sophomore and two freshmen — Skyline will certainly be the favorite next year after making program history.
Written by Justin Giles for the Deseret News. Republished with permission. Photography courtesy of Fairways Media/Randy Dodson.
Jesse Mueller, a frequent Utah Open competitor, likes to keep things simple. The defending champion of the PGA Professional Championship is prepared to defend his title with the same straightforward strategy he employed last year.
He’ll focus on playing his game and the golf course, which he hopes will lead to having a chance to win in the end.
Mueller, General Manager of Grand Canyon University Golf Course in Phoenix, will compete in a field of 312 PGA Professionals at the 2023 PGA Professional Championship, held April 30 – May 3 at Twin Warriors and Santa Ana Golf Clubs in Santa Ana Pueblo, New Mexico.
Joining Mueller is a strong contingent of Utah PGA Professionals led by Mark Owen the 2023 Utah PGA Section Champion. Also teeing it up this year at the PPC are Chris Moody, Tommy Sharp, Jordan Gibbs, Matt Baird, Zach Johnson, Casey Fowles, and two-time winner of the PGA Professional Championship, Steve Schneiter.
Prior to hitting the road we caught up with the above list of Utah PGA Professionals who are annually on the “players to watch” list when considering the Utah PGA’s Rolex Player of the Year award. This is what they had to say as they chase the opportunity to win on the national level and qualify for the PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y.
Mark Owen, 2022 Utah PGA Section Champion, MountainView Golf Course
“The shortest answer I could give is who wouldn’t want to play in a Major? Every year we qualify at our Section tournament for the opportunity to go play in the PGA Professional Championship (affectionately known as the PPC). If you were to ask anyone that qualified to go to the PPC I would be surprised if that was the end goal. The PPC is a stepping stone to the PGA Championship and many more opportunities, if you play well enough.
“Utah’s golf equivalent to the basketball saying, “I wanna be like Mike” is everyone here wants to “be like Stevie.” Steve Schneiter’s success in winning this event and subsequent good play over the years at this event has given many club professionals some added confidence to go and perform well.
“I remember Steve telling me some years ago at Reynolds Plantation in 2008 to just have fun and try to play well and that there were thousands of PGA Professionals that wanted to be there but weren’t, and to just enjoy the experience. Moods, Tommy, Zach and Joe Summerhays have been able to go and perform well too. The benefits that come with finishing high or even winning this event can be exciting.
“In the half dozen or so times that I have been able to go to the PPC, I have yet to go and perform well but I always go thinking about playing well. This event has given me so many great memories with my family and friends and I look forward to the opportunity every time.”
Zach Johnson, Davis Park Golf Course
“As a PGA Professional the PPC is our major championship. In Utah we have a very strong playing Section so to qualify and to be able to represent Utah and our Section in the event is always an honor.
Competing in the PPC is the number one goal every year for me as a player.
“I know for me, the Section Championship is always highlighted on my playing schedule and really makes or breaks the year. I’m looking forward to traveling to New Mexico to compete!”
Casey Fowles, Sunset View Golf Course
“It is always a highlight of the year to play in this event. It’s difficult in the Utah Section to get there because there are so many quality players, so to qualify is a great feeling.
“It’s always at a course that tests your game and they set it up to be very challenging so it is fun to see where it stacks up against the rest of the PGA Professionals. There are some extremely talented players out there and with the amount of players in the field you just have to put your head down and grind away.
“My favorite part of the event is just how well it’s run and some of the perks like tour vans, premium range balls, swag. It is just always a neat experience for me and I am really grateful to have the opportunity to participate again this year.”
Chris Moody, Riverside Country Club
“The PPC is always an event I look forward to playing in. With it being the PGA’s Members’ major championship, it has produced some of the most memorable weeks in my golfing career, as well as some of the most frustrating weeks. The Utah Section has produced some sneaky good play in the PPC over the years. It is always an honor to represent the Utah Section PGA and hopefully make the Section proud by earning one of the twenty spots into the PGA Championship.”
Tommy Sharp, Salt Lake Golf Academy
“The PPC is pretty much our Super Bowl. It is always my main goal to qualify each year and it is what my main motivation is over the winter to be ready for the event. The club pro is our one week to truly feel like PGA TOUR players with the manufacturers bringing their tour vans, the range balls all being our ball of choice, and the Golf Channel covering the event live.
“I am really looking forward to this year’s event being played at our altitude as we are always having to play closer to sea level and I am looking forward to it being played on our type of grass versus Bermuda. In my experience, the players that are used to playing at sea level have a difficult time adjusting their distances as they simply don’t have the opportunity to play at altitude very often.
“I am always proud to represent the Utah Section PGA at the event as we have had a really good run and success rate of getting guys to the PGA Championship over the past eight years (I believe six different guys and eight appearances).
“It all started for me when Dustin Volk qualified in Myrtle Beach as he was a player that I knew very well and had played a lot of golf with and I thought if he can do it, I can do it. From there, I think it kind of snowballed with all of us believing that we could qualify. Utah has always had a strong history of sending players to the PGA Championship in the past with Steve Schneider, Jimmy Blair and Milan Swilor. It is really fun to be a part of the new crop of players trying to keep it going for Utah.
“It will definitely be a challenge for us this year with so little golf being played recently with our long winter, but I think all of the guys are refreshed and ready to compete.”
Matt Baird, Riverside Country Club Teaching Professional
“It’s kind of funny because during this Section Championship, it’s still nerve-racking to qualify right? You’re playing against your peers here in Utah and you still want to qualify. Chris Moody and I always laugh about how we still get nervous and nervous feelings when trying to qualify. But, this is my ninth one. Last year I played well and I was 21st. I missed the playoff by one. It’s a big field of 350 guys.
“I feel we are one of the best Sections in the country. We have a lot of good players and now we have Jordan Gibbs. I mean, he’s really good. So yeah, I’d love to see us all play well. Last year when we were all playing well, we were texting each other. And that was fun, you know, just to support each other out there, as a Section.”
Jordan Gibbs, Bonneville Golf Course
“For us, obviously, this is like our major. I always want to make it a point to qualify for it every year. I’ve had a pretty good record since I’ve gotten my PGA membership to qualify for it. It’s never fun if you miss out on it. So, I’m happy to be here again.
“The good thing for me is I’m actually familiar with this golf course, Twin Warriors. I’ve played here a good bit when I was in the Sun Country Section. I’ve had a little bit of success here, winning the Section Championship in 2020. I still have some good vibes.
“I haven’t qualified for a PGA Championship yet, but it’s been a goal of mine for a really long time. To be honest, that goal was my biggest motivation to get my PGA Membership. Hopefully qualifying for the PGA Championship happens at some point.”
Story by Randy Dodson. Photos courtesy of Fairways Media and PGA of America (Gibbs).
Passion comes first for PGA Professional Rob Krieger.
As the PGA Director of Instruction for Southgate Golf Course in St. George, Utah, Rob aims to create a unique experience through golf for all of his students. Growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, Rob took to golf from the ripe age of six and, since then, hasn’t thought twice about what he would do for the rest of his career. While playing for his golf team in high school, Rob even volunteered for his golf coach to help teach beginner adults the game.
“I just fell in love with figuring out why I struggled with my own game,” says Krieger. “This led to me wanting to learn more about why some players were challenged with their own games and why others weren’t – it was like a big puzzle to me that I couldn’t put down. To this day, I am still searching for the answers to help people ‘swing their swing’ as the great Arnold Palmer once put it.”
Along Krieger’s journey, he’s discovered a new path through his craft of teaching and is now dedicated to helping Veterans discover their own swing — and with it, a newfound joy — at Southgate Golf Course through the power of PGA HOPE.